Russia rejects William Hague’s call for Syrian president to quit
Call follows outrage over massacre
BRITAIN and Russia were split today on whether Syrian President Bashar al Assad should stand down amid the bloodshed in the country.
Foreign Secretary William Hague called for the leader to quit following international outrage at the weekend massacre in Houla in which at least 100 civilians, including dozens of children were killed.
But Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said a regime change in Damascus was “not the most important thing”.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Russia, Mr Hague repeated his demand for President Assad to hand over power, saying: “We have a long-standing view about this in the UK.
“We have said all the way back from last August that finding a solution to this involves him standing aside.”
But, sitting next to Mr Hague, Mr Lavrov rejected the call. He said: “For us it’s not the most important thing who is in power in Syria. For us the main thing is to provide for the end of all violence.”
The pair agreed Syria must implement a six-point plan for peace by former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, who has been appointed a peace envoy to Syria.
The plan envisages a truce, withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from cities, deployment of a UN monitoring force, and dialogue between the government and opposition aimed at a Syrian-led political transition.